I've always thought that 18th and 19th C. wrought iron belonged, with early lighting, in a separate category. Crafted largely of wrought and tinned iron and brass, the products of
early metalsmiths were designed for use but infused with personal style. They furnished
the kitchen, equipped the hearth, provided the light and made life in the colonies possible. Today these same pieces make life enjoyable as well. We'll bring you the best we can
find and we guarantee their authenticity.
Halsey Munson Americana
204 North Summit Avenue
Decatur, Illinois 62522
All rights reserved.
The Best Bed Warmer I've Ever Seen
Extraordinary early to mid-18th C. bed warming pan in brass, copper and forged iron. The pan’s copper alloy lid is decorated in raised brass with a 5-spoke pinwheel, butterflies between the spokes, in the center a horse with one hoof raised, all enclosed within an embossed rope-patterned rim. The lid is densely pierced with circles, hearts and birds. Forged iron throat, smoke-blackened turned walnut handle, hammered brass pan apparently dovetailed then skimmed. The pan was repaired at the rim and at the hinge at some point with heavy copper and brass rivets. 48”L and 13” in diameter. Without even a close second, this is the best and probably also the earliest warming pan I’ve ever seen. Dutch or French, ca. 1700-1750.
Early 19th C. Chamberstick
Ca. 1825-1830 heavy brass chamberstick with accompanying witch’s hat douter. Seamed construction with wire-rolled rim and original lifter tab. Mellow oxidized surface, perfect condition. England. 5¾”H.
Rare Tole Painted 10”
Sheet Iron Candle Holder
Unusual, tall 10” tole painted sheet iron candle holder with a 6½” crimped base, a 3” crimped drip pan, under a candle socket with folded rim, and a gracefully scrolled sheet iron handle. This general form was typically used for an Ipswitch betty or an open pan lamp. I’m irresistibly drawn to the exceptional and this is the only example I can recall made to accept a wax candle. Inside the base, and much worn from repeated cleanings, a pair of Berlin, CT-style green and salmon painted flower heads are still visible, encircled by the same salmon teardrop brush strokes that rim the drip pan above. Excellent condition with a minor perforation rust on the base. CT, ca. 1800-1850.
Hexagonal Candle Lantern
in original blue-green paint. Although it certainly spent time outside, possibly in a carriage house, it has so many careful refinements that it’s hard to refer to it as a “barn lantern.” Both top and bottom Atlantic white pine boards are chamfered to reduce apparent thickness; the posts are tenoned through both top and bottom, pegged at the top, wedged from beneath and secured with wood pins at each corner; the posts are subtly molded; a rising and falling glass half pane gives access to the square nailed sheet iron candle socket. Of course, nothing survives 175 years without a flesh wound or two: the top has a narrow heat crack, two posts have sheared off even with the top surface, and the underside of one corner is chipped. Ca. 1825-1865, probably Eastern U.S. 13”H and 4” on a side. $975
Wrought Iron Candleholder
With Wooden X-Base
In the world of truly early lighting, this is a fairly rare piece. It’s what lighting scholar John Caspall termed a “corner standard rushnip.” He was referring to 18th English lighting used to illuminate dark corners in traditionally under-lit homes. But this combination rushlight and candleholder has a spoke shaved white pine shaft standing on an X-form base of American white oak. 32” high and 15” across the base. The wrought iron element has a twistwork passage in the stem and the rushlight’s jaws are counterweighted by a pivoting arm that terminates in a wrapped cone candle socket. Ca. 1750-1800, found in Cornish, ME, and probably American.
Signed Early 19th C. Paint-Decorated Sheet Iron Candle Sconce
Less than 1% of all American painted tinware is signed, and the initials in yellow below the hanger hole are those of the unidentified decorator. The tinware industry started in Berlin, CT with the Pattison family who trained other tinsmiths over the years. Among them was Stephen North who later established his own tinshop in Fly River, NY. North grew a successful operation and trained his workers in the decorative styles he had learned in Connecticut. Martin and Tucker in their 4-volume American Painted Tinware show a Connecticut decorative form identical to the backplate on this sconce on p. 21 of Vol. 1. On pp. 84-91 they also illustrate a ropework form from the North tinshop that, although more vertical, is very similar to Berlin style. This sconce could be Berlin work, dating 1740-1850, or North tinshop work 1790-1841. In either case, a signed piece of American toleware in this condition is almost unprecedented. $1,875
Sand Weighted Double
Early 19th C. sheet iron tabletop candlestand with a double socket adjustable drip tray and a sand-weighted base. Usually, sand-ballasted stands adjust candle height with the friction of one or two sprung arms against the center post. This one is unusual in that a hidden mechanism inside the canister that supports the drip tray performs the same function. An uncommonly sophisticated design. Interestingly, an early owner elected to limit vertical travel by wrapping the post with thread and sealing it with wax, precisely like the collar that joins the blown glass bulbs of pre-1760 sand glasses. 31” tall.
Possible American Wrought Iron
Excellent pair of 18th C. wrought iron pipe or ember tongs. American or English, but given their weight and style of construction, quite likely American. Made by a skilled smith, the details are subtle and simple, but elegant. The tapering arms have precisely matching twistwork passages and end in leaf-shaped jaws with in-rolled tips to better grip the glowing coal on its way to the pipe. Boxed hinge with internal pivot, tamper stud and rattail hanger hook. 16½”L. A small group of similar pipe tongs were sold when the Sorber collection of early American iron went to auction in 2005.
Signed 18th C. Box Wax Jack
One of the less common forms of 18th C. wax jack. Most are much more elaborate with spring-loaded jaws and embellished columns. This is a simple box wax jack that probably would have sat on a desk; a canister with a lid mounting the equivalent of a candle socket. The wax snake is contained in the base and pulled up through the candle socket as it burned low. Typically, these provided the wax to seal letters and other documents. For the sake of accuracy there is denting to the loop handle. 3½”H x 3”W.
Remarkable 19th C. Figural Gate Lock
Mid-to-late 1800s iron gate lock in the form of a violin. These are fairly uncommon and, when they do turn up, they’re usually heavily rusted and inoperative. This one is not, and has a beautiful warm patina with no rust at all. Constructed from heavy gauge sheet iron, all the parts—the body, the shank and the neck—are riveted. When the key is turned, the neck and fingerboard detach and slide off the curved shank. The upper surface of the body is decorated with hand-stamped designs. There’s some disagreement about where these were made. My guess is Germany and made for export. A successful meeting of form and function and an example of this lock form is on display in the Jehning Lock Museum in California. 12” L. With the original key.
Rare 17th C. Table Top Adjustable Lighting Standard
Extremely early forged iron table top candle stand with tripod base. I’ve had only three of these in 30 years. Teutonic in design, this form was made in both 17th and 18th C. German-influenced areas of Europe as well as by immigrant German craftsmen in Pennsylvania and in small enclaves in upstate New York. In addition to the platform base, characteristic of this early form are the cleated candle cup with pry-out aperture (a convention largely abandoned by the 1st quarter of the 1700s), the rattail terminal below the adjustable candle carriage, and the flared and riveted carrying handle. The flattened collar where the vertical shaft passes through the circular base is almost an invariable element of this design. Distinctive to this piece are the tiny pinched ring iron finial and the notched securing nut beneath the base—not only threaded onto the butt of the center column but then peened over for good measure. 19” H. Ca. 1700-1725. An exceptional piece.